By the end of this month, more than half the delegates in the Democratic Party’s race for the presidency will have been won. Today, March 10, voters in six more states gear up for their primaries, and another four states are on tap for March 17. With millions already looking ahead to Nov. 3, what are the issues that will bring out conservative Christian voters?
I’m not a policy expert, but I am a Christian journalist focusing on the things I know matter most to evangelical voters. To that end, here’s a quick overview of some key issues. These may seem obvious, but what’s most important to the faithful is the narrative that candidates deliver, which serves as the litmus test of where their hearts really are on the issues. Evangelicals can easily discern if a candidate is giving lip-service to cultural concerns near and dear to those with hearts for God, or if presidential hopefuls are truly concerned about the issues below:
A huge concern is stopping late-term abortion and being certain we have a president who will nominate conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices who will rule favorably on the various heartbeat bills that several states passed in 2019. The bills ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks, and were passed partly to bring the issue before the Supreme Court.
Israel and the Middle East
There’s also concern over the Iran nuclear deal and whether the United States continues to give strong support to Israel. For many Christians, including those involved in groups such as Christians United for Israel, this is the top policy issue. Many Christian Zionists even believe our support of Israel is what guarantees God’s blessing on America.
Many evangelicals believe religious liberty, protected by the First Amendment, is under severe attack—especially by the courts. That will motivate hundreds of thousands to turn up to the polls to stop these trends. The government power brokers on the left seem to want to replace individual rights with the rights of groups, which would undercut our very Constitution.
Supreme Court Justices
The battle over justice appointments is typically viewed through the lens of whether the nominee is an originalist or a postmodernist. Originalists believe the Constitution’s meaning is fixed, and Supreme Court rulings should be based on what the authors meant when they wrote the documents. Nonoriginalists and postmodernists believe the Supreme Court should base its decisions on what the text of the Constitution means to modern readers.
Because these views can have a significant impact on the justices’ interpretations of the Constitution—which affects every aspect of American life, including religious liberties—the Supreme Court nomination process has become a fistfight.
Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, quoted in my new book, God, Trump and the 2020 Election, says only time will tell if the Democrats actually “go off a cliff in their extreme leftist agenda.” Often at election time, they try to seem much more middle-of-the-road and let unelected left-leaning judges accomplish their goals, such as finding “rights” not present in the Constitution on issues of same-sex marriage and abortion, for instance.
This is an issue so important, I devote an entire chapter in my book to a discussion of what the Bible says about borders. Old Testament laws associated with “foreigners” make the case for assimilation, as said “foreigners” living in the Israelite community had to adhere to its covenantal structure. Modern immigration policy, with its emphasis on multiculturalism, is a looming Tower of Babel disaster.
Unfortunately, some liberal Christians try to frame the immigration debate only as whether Christians should have compassion for those immigrants who are poor, which we should. But Christianity doesn’t endorse a suicidal immigration system that gives the country no right to define and defend its borders.
This is one area where evangelicals often find commonality with the left because justice is important in the Bible. Christians see it in moral terms, and I’ve had black pastors who are passionate about criminal justice tell me that issue is why they stick with the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Trump has provided valuable leadership to this important issue of reforming our criminal justice system to give nonviolent offenders a second chance at life. Even though Democrats act as if they have owned this issue for decades, they never accomplished what the Trump administration has.
Interestingly, the concept of prison reform is based on the biblical principles of paying restitution to victims, repenting of past wrongs, working, getting educated and developing the skills to succeed. As a result, a bipartisan coalition of liberals in the Democratic Party and conservatives and Christians in the Republican Party was formed to pass needed prison reform in 2018. But, sadly, those instances of bipartisan consensus and compromise are few and far between.
Because the Democrats have held the House of Representatives since the midterms, not much is happening legislatively. Therefore, the focus of conservative activists is on court appointments in the Senate and working with the administration on executive action such as the Department of Health and Human Services’ latest conscience protection.
For example, Reed’s coalition has a full team of lobbyists in Washington who work on these issues every day. He and others are meanwhile building infrastructure and getting ready for 2020. Reed told me: “I want to turn out the biggest Christian vote in U.S. history in 2020.”